21 March 2014

Bill Maher: Holy Ship (and Drunk With Blood)

In case you missed it last week, here it is again for you.

And here's a tweet that Bill Maher sent today.

Thanks Bill!

11 March 2014

According the the Book of Mormon, Jesus is his own father

Joseph Smith was a bit confused about the relationship between Jesus and his father.

He saw the two of them together in his very first vision. Here's how he described it:

I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. (Times and Seasons, Volume 3, pp.706-7)

And although in this account, the identical-looking "glorious personages" were not identified by name, he named them in another account.

I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Joseph Smith-History, 1:17)

Here's a picture that someone took of the event.

(I'm not sure, but I think Jesus is on the left and his dad is on right, since the guy on the right seems to be pointing at the other guy. But you should ask a Mormon, just to be sure.)

So Jesus and his father are, or at least look like, identical twins.

Or maybe they they are the same person. That's why they appear identical, just like the Book of Mormon repeatedly and clearly states.

Here are the verses that I've found so far that say that Jesus is his own father, but let me know if I missed any.

  1. He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth. Mosiah 3:8

  2. He shall be called the Son of God ... being the Father and the Son -- The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. Mosiah 15:2-4

  3. Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? Yea, he is the very Eternal Father. Alma 11:38-39

  4. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth. Helaman 14:12

  5. He be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth. Helaman 16:18

  6. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. Ether 3:14

  7. He that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father. Ether 4:12

09 March 2014

Alma 11: How much is a Senine of gold worth?

The Law of Mosiah established a basic legal system to deal with disputes (mostly financial disputes from the sound of it). A plaintiff could bring a case to the Judges, and then the accused person would be brought to the courtroom for a trial. Pretty basic stuff.
Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or be cast out from among the people as a thief and a robber. 11.2
More importantly, though, was how the Judges were compensated. They were paid one "Senine"of gold per day that they spent in court trying cases.
Now it was in the law of Mosiah that every man who was a judge of the law, or those who were appointed to be judges, should receive wages according to the time which they labored to judge those who were brought before them to be judged. 11.1 
And the judge received for his wages according to his time -- a senine of gold for a day, or a senum of silver, which is equal to a senine of gold; and this is according to the law which was given. 11.3
You might be asking yourself: "Is that a fair amount? How much is a senine, really?" Good question. Luckily Joseph Smith has an answer for us.

A Senine of gold = a Senum of silver = A measure of barley (or any other grain)
A seon of gold = 2 senines of gold
A shum of gold = 2 seons of gold
A limnah of gold = the value of them all*

*Most people interpret this as a limnah being worth 1 senine + 1 seon + one shum, or 7 senines.

(Also, it's worth noting that a person could become rich very quickly speculating on the Nephite commodities market, since all crop prices were pegged to their coinage.)

And for silver they had names, too!

An amnor of silver = 2 senums
An ezrom of silver = 2 ammors
An Onti of silver = the value of them all.

And for smaller amounts they had awesome, made-up sounding names, too:

A shiblon of silver = 1/2 senum
A shiblum of silver = 1/2 shiblom
A leah of silver = 1/2 shiblum

Also, just in case we needed a unit for gold that was equal to 1.5 senines, they invented the antion of gold, which was worth 3 shibloms of silver (1.5 senums, which are equal to 1.5 senines of gold). I wish we had a 1.5 dollar bill!

Okay, good. So how much were the Judges paid, and was it a fair amount?

For an honest day's work, a Judge could be paid:

A.) 1 senine of gold
B.) 1 senum of silver
C.) 1 measure of barley
D.) 1 measure of any other grain
E.) 1/2 amnor of silver
F.) 1/4 ezrom of silver
G.) 1/7 onti of silver
H.) 2 shiblons of silver
I.) 4 shiblums of silver
J.) 8 leahs of silver
K.) 2/3 antion of gold
L.) 1/2 seon of gold
M.) 1/4 shum of gold
N.) 1/7 leah of gold

So they had plenty of options. But we still don't really have a good idea of how much these coins were worth, unless we figure out how much a "measure of barley" is. Some people have claimed that a "measure" is as much as 6 bushels. If so, then a Judge was being paid quite well for his day of work.

I suppose they could also have paid the judges with change, like 1/8 ezrom of silver and a half measure of barley, but that would have been rude with all of the other options. (None of these coins have ever been found, by the way.)

But on with the story.

You see, the judges were greedy people, and they convinced the people to file frivolous lawsuits, because they wanted more work.
Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek. 11.20
Remember Zeezrom from the last chapter? He was the clever lawyer that was out to get Alma and Amulek. Zeezrom asked Amulek if he could ask him a few questions. Amulek agreed, and Zeezrom tried to bribe him to deny the existence of God. He offered him six onties of silver!
And this Zeezrom began to question Amulek, saying: Will ye answer me a few questions which I shall ask you? Now Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good; therefore, he said unto Amulek: Will ye answer the questions which I shall put unto you? 11.21 
And Amulek said unto him: Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord. And Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being. 11.22
Amulek didn't take him up on his kind offer. Zeezrom continued to question Amulek about God, and he continued to answer him. Then he explained how everyone is going to resurrected to be judged by God.
Now Amulek said: O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations? 11.23
And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? 11.26 
And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. 11.27 
Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things? 11.30 
And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me. 11.31
And Zeezrom said again: Shall he save his people in their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word. 11.34
Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? 11.38
And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; 11.39
After this little speech, everyone was astonished, and Zeezrom trembled. And that's the end of the chapter, or at least all that he bothered to write down.
Now, when Amulek had finished these words the people began again to be astonished, and also Zeezrom began to tremble. And thus ended the words of Amulek, or this is all that I have written. 11.46

05 March 2014

With the Bird Bible, your family will never be bored with scripture again!

Not too long ago, I added a boring category to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible to mark the Bible's more boring sections. One of them was the 40th chapter of the book of Exodus, which includes these exciting and inspiring verses:

And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. Exodus 40:17-18

But now there's a new Bible that fills even the Bible's most boring passages with the excitement that you always wished was there. It's called "The Bird Bible."

Here's an ad for it:

I can't wait until I see how the Bird Bible handles the first nine chapters of First Chronicles!

01 March 2014

Yes Elder Price, the Mormon church still believes that you'll get your own planet

"I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet."

This is a quote from Elder Price in the "Book of Mormon" musical.

If you haven't heard the song that this quote it is taken from ("I Believe"), you should. It's a good and fair summary of Mormon belief.

Of course, it's also very funny, as are most Mormon beliefs.

But the LDS church isn't laughing; it's trying to find a way to tell non-Mormons that it doesn't teach the things that Elder Price believes, yet do it in a way that won't upset Elder Price and other Mormon believers too much. That's a difficult task, but judging from the news articles that reported on the LDS church's latest attempt, they've managed to pull it off.

[See for example ABC News: No, People Don't Get Own Planets in Afterlife Like in 'Book of Mormon', HuffingtonPost: Mormon Church Dispels Planet Afterlife Misconception Fostered By 'Book Of Mormon' Broadway Show, and The Wire: Mormons Don't Technically Get a Planet Once They Die, Say Mormons]

The article (Becoming LIke a God) on the official LDS website uses 3500 words to carefully dance around the topic it is trying hard to avoid -- which is, of course, Elder Price's belief that he will one day get his very own planet.

This is as close as it gets to addressing the topic:

Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often similarly reduced in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets.

Notice that the quote doesn't deny that the LDS doctrine of exaltation implies that people will receive their own planets. It just says that this belief has been made into a cartoonish idea in the media. And it has. Here, for example, is a cartoon that fully explains the LDS doctrine of exaltation.

And while I can't verify that all of the beliefs mentioned in the above cartoon are taught by the LDS church, I can verify that it still teaches Elder Price's planetary belief. (Or it did 15 years ago, anyway.)

And how do I know this? Well, in 1999 my wife attended a (for credit) LDS Seminary class at Idaho State University in 1999 call "Achieving a Celestial Marriage." It used a student manual with the same title, from which the below quotes were taken.


(1-2) He lived on an Earth like Our Own
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. ..." (Smith, Teachings, p. 345.)


(1-4) Our Father in Heaven Lives in an Exalted Marriage Relationship

(1-9) Celestial Marriage Makes It Possible for Us to Claim Or Mortal Children in Eternity As Well As to Propagate Ourselves Throughout Eternity
"[A]ll who attain to this glory will have the blessing of the continuation of the 'seeds' forever. ... [T]hey will have a posterity that will be as innumerable as the stars of heaven.

To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one.... We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. ..." (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43-44, 48.) [My emphasis.]

(1-20) SUMMARY
As shown in this chapter, our Father in heaven was once a man as we are now ... he and our mother in heaven were empowered to give birth to spirit children.... We are those spirit children.

So don't worry, Elder Price. The LDS church still believes that you'll get that planet. (They just don't want to talk about it in front of the Gentiles.)